It could have been any of us.
But this time, it was someone from the governor’s office who was caught in the crossfire of a battle between gangs early Monday morning. Carey Gabay was shot in the head by a stray bullet, one of up to 30 that flew during a Brooklyn gunfight hours before the West Indian Day parade.
Gabay epitomized the story of a self-made New Yorker. A native of the island of Jamaica, Gabay grew up in a housing project in the Bronx and graduated from Harvard University. After a stint at a private law firm, he worked as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then for the Empire State Development Corp., the state’s economic development arm. His wife is expecting their first child.
Gabay is yet another face, another name, another chapter in the tragedy of gun violence, too often coming from NYC gangs and illegal guns. His work in Albany adds a spotlight, but the story is familiar and heartbreakingly sad.
It comes as crime and policing in NYC remain central in an ongoing debate underscored by intense political crosscurrents. There’s been the heated back-and-forth on stop-and-frisk between Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his predecessor, Ray Kelly. Others debate Bratton’s focus on community policing. Bratton has pointed to weak gun laws elsewhere that lead to illegal guns here.
Crime data declines and political slugfests no longer matter when one innocent man becomes a face of the violence. It’s up to Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio to move beyond the rhetoric and politics, and address the larger societal issues at hand.
Gabay’s shooting came amid celebrations that preceded the West Indian Day parade. Violence has marred the parade in years past; in 2013, a 1-year-old in a stroller was killed. Such incidents detract from heritage celebrations and must stop. The parade should continue, but the related gatherings must be met with increased attention from police officials and the community. New Yorkers must be able to walk down the street, enjoy time with friends and celebrate who they are without being afraid for their lives. Is that too much to ask?